Did you know that the word “comfort” is derived from a Greek word that means “to come alongside and encourage?” God says, “Go comfort my People” and asks us to walk alongside someone during their times of pain. It’s a profound reminder that true comfort goes beyond mere words.
But that’s not always easy, is it? Nicholas Walterstorff, a well-known theologian and author of Lament of a Son, has written, “Let’s face it, grief is just so messy. We want the grieving person to ‘get over it,’ or ‘be done with it.’ So we are often tempted to rush in with a quick fix.”
I can relate to this struggle firsthand. When my wonderful mother passed away at the age of 92, someone at the funeral home said, “How wonderful, she’s out of her misery, and she is with the Lord!” While both of those statements were true, in that moment, I was consumed by grief. I needed to express my sorrow, my grief.
Looking back at this situation, I now understand that my friend was trying to “make” me feel better. But at that moment, I didn’t need a platitude or a cliché. It would have been much more helpful if my friend had said, “I am so sorry. I know how close you were to your mom. You must feel very lonely and sad.” Those comments would have given me a chance to express, if I wished, some of my feelings, and I would have felt that the person understood and cared about me.
So, in offering genuine comfort to someone who is suffering, it’s crucial to go beyond platitudes because they only offer false comfort. Remember, you don’t have to remove their pain; you only have to walk alongside them and provide comfort. Instead of rushing in with quick fixes, take the time to truly listen and understand their emotions.
Invite them to express their feelings and thoughts. Let them know that you are there to support them unconditionally. By avoiding platitudes, you create a safe space for them to share their deepest pain and find solace in knowing that they are heard and cared for.
Let us strive to be the comforting presence that someone in pain truly needs, going beyond empty words and embracing the power of sincere understanding and support.
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Post updated 2023